A look at the "Ocean of Light: Submergence" exhibition.
(Courtesy Santa Cruz MAH)
The Here & Now

MAH to debut new downtown arts festival in September

Slated for Sept. 16-19 both indoors and out, the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History’s “Frequency” festival will showcase digital arts, focused on light, sound and interactivity.

Downtown Santa Cruz will light up in September with a new arts festival — and, no, that’s not a metaphor.

“Frequency” will be a four-day happening showcasing artistic expressions in “light, sound, and digital culture,” featuring a dozen installations including animations, kinetic sculptures, videogames, and even Zoom art.

The Museum of Art & History announced Tuesday that the festival will take place Sept. 16-19 both within the museum and outdoors at nearby plazas and gardens. The festival will take place from 5-10 p.m. each of the four nights, and will feature mostly Santa Cruz-based digital and light artists. The outdoor installations — the MAH “Secret Garden” and Abbott Square — will all be free to the public. Admission to the MAH for the indoor art pieces will be $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.

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Among the local artists taking part will be UC Santa Cruz theater artist David Crellin, composer and recording artist Karlton Hester, street theater and “experiential guerrilla marketing” company Stellaria, and lighting production and design company Visual Endeavors Inc. Other artists from across the country and around the world will also participate in the event.

Included in the festival will be “Oceans of Light,” a walk-through experience featuring more than 5,000 points of light; “Entanglement,” featuring a geodesic dome with lasers and sound design; “Poems of Positivity,” which will create “sculptural poems” with interactive elements; and more.

“Frequency” continues the MAH’s interest in engaging the downtown in cutting-edge arts festivals. It follows on the tradition established by “GLOW: A Festival of Fire & Light,” which featured all kinds of eye and mind candy, including fire artists. “GLOW” brought a distinct Burning Man vibe to Santa Cruz, including many artists who had shown extensively at Burning Man, most recently in 2019.

But that was then. A new decade, a new management team at the MAH and, perhaps most important, a worldwide pandemic marked a distinct reset for the MAH and its plans.

“Frequency” also marks the opening of one of the MAH’s long-term exhibits, from the U.K. digital arts collective Squidsoup that will be at the museum through the rest of 2021 after the festival.

For more information, go here.